Here’s my reply to your piece about the aurora. I’m sorry I dont have any photos of African sunsets. I refused to take any, preferring just to stand in awe while they lasted.
Pinpricks of Ecstasy
Lela – I am uplifted by your fascinating account of aurora-watching for my blog and am inspired to tell you of what the heavens mean to me.
From as early as I can remember, I have been entranced by the sky. I seldom get up early enough to see the sun rise, but when I do, I pause to watch the translucent colours dissolve into vapours with the warmth of day.
My enthralment with the setting of the sun is an intense, almost anguished thrill which strikes my heart as I witness the glory of the red, orange and purple hues changing with every moment. Dusky clouds billow and curl, striking through that glorious orb with dense black lines; golden bars of light touch the ground; then the sun sinks beneath the curve of the earth leaving an after-glow, which, in Africa, is gone in a flash.
My family never failed to sigh with fake tolerance when I indicated the evening skies through the car window on drives home from school.
“Look at that sky,” I would exclaim. “Isn’t it just wonderful?”
“Awww – Mum,” they said. “You’re at it again.” Then, with a nervous tremble, “Keep your eyes on the road, Mum!”
I used to love doing jigsaw puzzles, but would ponder at the sheer ordinariness of those skies – bland, wishy-washy shades of blue and faint apricot with boring pieces all the same, impossible to fit in. On coming to live in the UK with its insidious pollution, I understood the reason why it was so. But I grew to appreciate the muted drama of the skies here, too, although the evening light lingers in these latitudes and dusk fades imperceptibly into darkness.
That thrilling, tingling feeling of ecstasy triggered by the beauty of African skies was missing. Why?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When that eye is filled with love, happiness and gratitude it is indeed a thrilling experience.
I did not want to leave Kenya; my heart was dull and no longer did I feel the beauty around me. Something was missing. Was it age that was stemming life’s infinite variety? I didn’t feel old.
It took me several years to settle here, to look around and realise that ours is the same wonderful firmament that envelopes the whole world – not just Africa. And there are other opportunities here, not available in Africa; the theatre, opera, concerts, societies of every conceivable kind. I still hanker after Kenya, where the birds show themselves off with panache instead of playing hide and seek behind leaves and branches. But the endless rolling downs catch my breath.
In time, I sense those little pin-pricks of ecstasy stabbing at my heart again. And I celebrate. I’m not too old! I just need to turn away from myself, embrace the heavens and rejoice in life and love, wherever I am.